Biz media investigated in insider trading probe

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Authorities have conducted a wide-ranging investigation into whether media companies facilitated insider trading on Wall Street by prematurely releasing market-moving government data, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

Brody Mullins and Devlin Barrett write, “The federal investigation examined whether news organizations used high-speed transmission systems to give some investors access to economic data a fraction of a second before the official release time, according to officials familiar with the probe.

“Among the media companies investigated were Bloomberg LP, Thomson Reuters Corp. and the Dow Jones & Co. unit of News Corp., which are the leading conduits of federal economic data to traders right after release, though not the sole ones.

“Investigators recently decided not to file any criminal charges, said people familiar with the matter. Investigators had launched the probe after spotting trading patterns suggesting some traders received data slightly before the release time; the investigators decided against filing charges because they couldn’t link the pattern to specific actions by media companies, people familiar with the probe said.

“A key issue, one of the people said, was whether the government could prove in court that a time advantage for a trader of a sliver of a second — as little as a few thousandths — was enough to conduct profitable trades on confidential information.”

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